files mysteriously disappeared

Oct 27, 2008
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I have been using Macs for 20 years and this is the first time this has happened to me, so I am absolutely dumbfounded.
Three of my most important files have suddenly gone missing. All three of them are files I was working on two days ago. They included both Microsoft Excel and TextEdit files. Yesterday when I went to open them they were suddenly gone.
I have searched every corner of my hard drive and they are nowhere to be found.
I am 100% sure that I did not accidentally delete these files.
What is the possible explanation for this?
In 20 years of using Macs I have never had this happen.
By the way, I use a 2007 Intel 2 Core Duo MacBook, 10.5.6


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